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James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Joney


Had a hare-lip-- Joney had:
Spiled his looks, and Joney knowed it:
Fellers tried to bore him, bad--
But ef ever he got mad,
He kep' still and never showed it.
'Druther have his mouth all pouted
And split up, and like it wuz,
Than the ones 'at laughed about it.
Purty is as purty does!

Had to listen ruther clos't
'Fore you knowed 'what he wuz givin'
You; and yet, without no boast,
Joney he wuz jest the most
Entertainin' talker livin'!
Take the Scriptur's and run through 'em,
Might say, like a' auctioneer,
And 'ud argy and review 'em
'At wuz beautiful to hear!

Hare-lip and inpediment,
Both wuz bad, and both ag'in' him--
But the old folks where he went,
'Preared like, knowin' his intent,
'Scused his mouth fer what wuz in him.
And the childern all loved Joney--
And he loved 'em back, you bet--!
Putt their arms around him-- on'y
None had ever kissed him yet!

In young company, someway,
Boys 'ud grin at one another
On the sly; and girls 'ud lay
Low, with nothin' much to say,
Er leave Joney with their mother.
Many and many a time he's fetched 'em
Candy by the paper sack,
And turned right around and ketched 'em
Makin mouths behind his back!

S'prised sometimes, the slurs he took--.
Chap said onc't his mouth looked sorter
Like a fish's mouth 'ud look
When he'd be'n jerked off the hook
And plunked back into the worter--.
Same durn feller-- it's su'prisin',
But it's facts-- 'at stood and cherred
From the bank that big babtizin'
'Pike-bridge accident occurred--!

Cherred for Joney while he give
Life to little childern drowndin'!
Which wuz fittenest to live--
Him 'at cherred, er him 'at div'
And saved thirteen lives...? They found one
Body, three days later, floated
Down the by-o, eight mile' south,
All so colored-up and bloated--
On'y knowed him by his mouth!

Had a hare-lip-- Joney had--
Folks 'at filed apast all knowed it--.
Them 'at ust to smile looked sad,
But ef he thought good er bad,
He kep' still and never showed it.
'Druther have that mouth, all pouted
And split up, and like it wuz,
Than the ones 'at laughed about it--.
Purty is as purty does!

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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